Friday, April 1, 2011

PA Consumer Protection Law in purchasing a home

Violations of the seller disclosure law carry fairly serious implications and penalties. Specifically, homebuyers wronged by seller deceit, among other things, can seek three-times their actual damages under Pennsylvania’s Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law (UTPCPL). Gabriel v. O'Hara, 368 Pa.Super. 383, 534 A.2d 488, 491-493 (1987) .

The UTPCPL provides:

Any person who purchases or leases goods or services primarily for personal, family or household purposes (the purchase of a residential house qualifies) and then suffers any ascertainable loss of money or property, real or personal, as a result of the use or employment by any person of a method, act or practice declared unlawful by section 3 of this act (such as withholding information from the Seller Disclosure Statement), may bring a private action to recover actual damages or one hundred dollars ($100), whichever is greater. 73 P.S. § 201-9.2(a).

Keep in mind that to make a claim under the UTPCPL you must not only have suffered an ascertainable loss as the result of an ‘unfair or deceptive act,’ but also must be: a ‘person,’ who made a ‘purchase,’ ‘primarily for personal, family, or household purposes.’ ” Valley Forge Towers South Condominium v. Ron-Ike Foam Insulators, Inc., 574 A.2d 641, 645 (Apa. Super. 1990), affirmed, 605 A.2d 798 (Pa.1992).

But if you satisfy these requirements, the court or jury may award treble (three times actual damages) damages as well as costs and attorney fees. Id.

This gives potential buyers a powerful avenue of recourse in they event they are duped by the sellers. Likewise, the UTPCPL serves as a wonderful deterrent to home sellers wondering if they should fully disclose a known defect with their home. Share this post :
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